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Software Translations / Software Industry

Software translations: translations for Computer Sciences, translations of computer programs, website translations and translation of software reviews.

If you need software translations it is because you have developed an application, program or platform which you wish to translate into other languages for users in different countries. A great variety of documents in several formats which need to be translated is generated within the field of IT/ Computer Science/ Informatics: from on-screen messages on a company’s website to the information the company provides about its applications and platforms, not to mention the translation of its technical manuals. Terminological coherence between all of these areas is paramount in order to ensure the user has a flawless experience while using the platform, software, video game or application.

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Did you know Pangeanic also develops software?

We work in the field of artificial intelligence and neural networks for natural language processing. See: Translation Software Technology and Neural Networks-based Machine Translation

The term localization is often used by professionals in the translation world when we talk about software translation. It is not a popular term outside the field of translation nor does it appear, in this sense, in the Oxford Dictionary. We use it in order to refer to the different approach that, as professional translators, we must take when we are translating softwaretranslating apps, or translating websites. In the case of software or IT translation terminological coherence is highly important. This does not only mean that it is important when an action or operation is mentioned within a program, but also means that translators should also be familiar with the terminology of the relevant operating systems (Windows, Mac, Linux, Android in the case of mobile phones).

We have collected the terminology associated with all of these operating systems When it comes to translations for the IT industry, they serve as our reference while translating. As they work, our translators see the suggested translation for each term come up on-screen. Subsequently, we carry out quality controls in order to check that each term has been used properly, ensuring that computer products can be marketed in different countries and that websites are technically informative and terminologically correct.

A badly translated website, an unverified or out-of-context on-screen message, or a badly translated user manual will jeopardize the entire launch of a product, software or platform in another country as well as its image. In order to conquer a market with a website, application or program we must make them available in the language of the user. In addition, they must be adapted. This is what we call “localization”.

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What steps are necessary in the localization process of software translation?

Localization, whether it is for a product, software program or service, involves adaptations o modifications in the original. This is necessary in order to offer users in each country the familiar look and feel that they are used to.

The necessary steps for a successful software localization:

  1. Export of the translatable elements. Translation tools allow us to maintain all programming elements without the code being affected. Generally, the export of the text to a .po, file is enough, however, intermediary formats such as xliff., might be necessary for websites or specific formats. If necessary we can open the code in specific translation programs that know how to interpret what is code and what is a translatable element. Check our file format page for more information.
  2. Translation of the text.
  3. Import and adjustment of the visual elements (it may be necessary to modify the translation). See “Settings” below.
  4. Language, functional and aesthetic verification phase.
  5. Test phase. Despite having all of the translations perfectly positioned, the code might make calls which no longer are interpretes in the same way. It is often necessary for somebody who knows the language to open the platform and implement the program in all of its options and variables as if they were a final user. Errors are reported to an engineer who then modifies the routines and adapts the translations, etc.

In the case of software translations or app translations the methodology is different. The “translation” is now an initial phase. After it we have adaptation phases that may result in the first translation being more distant from the original text but that will improve the user’s experience and ensure that they can interact with the software comfortably in their own language.

With technical translations (user manuals, technical manuals) we can be literal. When it is a case of seeing something on-screen we must take two things in account.

Cultural aspects of localization
Technical and functional aspects of software translations
Selection of software translators/IT

Cultural aspects of localization

  • Use of colors which may mean different things in different cultures. For example, in China red is synonymous with life. In the West white signifies purity whereas in China it signifies death or bad fortune. In India it symbolizes pain as it is the only color that a widow can wear (in contrast to black which is the color of mourning in the West)
  • Symbols (there are also symbols which may carry offensive connotations in different parts of the world)
  • Comments on religion or beliefs (these should always be avoided)
  • Traditions (difficult to translate and adapt and even those that are well-known can have a very different meanings)

Technical and functional aspects of software translations

  • It is possible that we may have to change the length and size of tabs, messages, menus, fields, dialog boxes and UIs in general. Each language expresses certain concepts in a different way.
  • When localizing for Asian languages we must keep in mind that 2 bits are used for each character. This is the case for Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, etc.
  • In Arabic translations and Hebrew translations, we must remember that the layout must be from right to left, including everything, from manuals to websites.
  • Arabic-speaking or Farsi (for Iran)-speaking users expect messages (pop-ups) to come up on the left and not on the right.
  • Japanese users may prefer some messages to appear from top to bottom.
  • When adapting for Anglo-Saxon countries length and weight measurements may have to be put into imperial (inches, feet, pounds, cubic gallons, etc.) instead of using the decimal metric system. This also affects the punctuation of thousands, millions and decimals.
  • In the US and some other countries dates follow the order of month-day-year, instead of the European day-month-year.

We recommend that, wherever possible, as much context as possible is provided so that translators are able to have all of the information related to the project available. Visual supports, screenshots, knowing the maximum dimensions of text fields in the case of on-screen messages and the characteristics of the final user are always useful when fairly specialized terminology has to be employed, (expert users, general users etc.)

Because of the expertise that we have been accumulating since 1997 as a technical translation company, our methodology prioritizes efficiency and consistency. Pangeanic has collaborated in a range of European research projects on the automation of translation processes. We have accumulated large databases of operating systems as well as expressions used within the field of IT and in specific and general-type software translations. We are not simply talking about professionalism, proofreading and attention. We have the tools, equipment and experience necessary so our software translations follow the necessary verification steps. We have localization experts who know how to adapt on-screen messages, not just how to simply translate them. We work to adapt your software on the basis of relevant professional or personal IT expertise.

Selection of software translators/IT

Our translators are selected after having undergone translation tests which allow us to assess their familiarity with the field of IT and software translations. The tests contain false friends which often mislead those who are not familiar with the field. The tests are rigorous and their aim is to guarantee high-quality translations for your products.

During the selection process, we also take into account the following points:

  • Demonstrable experience in similar projects (software or computer program translation)
  • The translator will only translate into their mother tongue
  • Familiarization with the proper software translation and terminology tools in order to carry out the work
  • References from previous work (software translations or computer program translation, mobile apps and app translation, etc.)
  • Awareness of the need both for self-revision and carrying out quality controls his or herself prior to delivering software translation work to the reviewer.

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